Carl Moulton, 41, from Notting Hill, was lucky to be alive after a chainsaw sliced through his neck…
Tugging on the starter rope, the chainsaw in my hand roared to life.
‘Heads up!’ I called out to my colleagues as the powerful machinery sliced through the tree branch like butter.
With just ropes and a harness keeping me in place, and climbing to dizzying heights, this certainly wasn’t a job for the faint-hearted.
But I’d been working as a tree surgeon for 15 years.
I was the most experienced on the team, scaling back a tree at a primary school in Hammersmith.
And, at 60ft tall and 40ft wide, this tree was a beast.
It was shedding its branches onto the playground below, and the teachers were worried about the kids getting hurt.
I had four children of my own – Kyle, 20, Jenna, 10, Chedon, five, and Niamh, three – and I hated to think of any of them being hurt.
Slowly moving to the last branch, I was balanced precariously high above the road next to the school.
Carefully pulling the chainsaw away from my utility belt, where it hung on a long stretch of elastic, I began cutting away at the branch above me. Suddenly, my feet slipped. My hands released the chainsaw as I steadied myself, and then it reared back, flying towards me!
Frozen in shock, the saw smashed into my throat. Its jagged teeth sliced at my Adam’s apple, spraying blood everywhere. This is it, I thought, terrified. IÕM going to die. I thought about my kids, and then everything went out of focus. Then the machine’s safety mechanism switched on, and the teeth whirred to a stop.
Blood was seeping down my chest.
I opened my mouth, and was surprised when I managed to get a few words out. ‘I’ve cut my neck,’ I wailed. But down below, the woodchipper was whirring.
None of my colleagues could hear me.
Mustering all my strength, I grabbed the ropes and grappled my way back to the tree trunk. I knew I had to get down. But it was a race against time, as I was rapidly losing blood.
Somehow I managed to abseil back down to the ground.
‘The chainsaw’s cut my neck,’ I panted, collapsing. One of the work experience lads started screaming.
I was hooked out of my harness and helped to a chair, while someone called an ambulance. After 15 years on the job, I’d never had so much as a nick with a chainsaw.
Now I’d only gone and slit my own throat! Looking down, I saw that I also had a huge gash across my arm – gooey flesh, fat and muscle were seeping out.
The chainsaw must have smashed into my arm before rebounding into my neck.
The air ambulance, paramedics and police soon arrived on the scene. ‘How is he not bleeding more?’ I heard a paramedic say. I was given a dose of morphine, just in case the shock wore off and the pain hit me. My head was spinning. Arriving at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, about 30 staff were waiting for me. They all agreed I’d been lucky – the saw was just 5mm away from severing an artery. It could have taken my head off. Later, my mum brought Niamh in to see me. ‘I love you baby girl,’ I cried, giving her a hug. After many stitches and three days in hospital, I’ve been left with a 6 inch gash on my left arm and a 3 inch wound on my neck. I haven’t returned to work yet, but I will soon. I’m one lucky sap!